Spain has Europe’s only known coltan reserve

coltanAerial view of the mine of A Penauta (Orense-Spain)

Victor Relaño (Capital Madrid) | Strategic Minerals is a company with US and Spanish capital that is in charge of the exploitation of the Penouta mine, located in the municipality of Viana do Bolo in the province of Orense. In June last year, the Xunta de Galicia granted permission for the extraction of 50 million tonnes of ore. The mining company will allocate €40 million for this initiative. Penouta is, to date, the only coltan mine in Europe, because it is also the only known reserve on the continent.

The company hopes to extract 50 million tonnes of the precious black gold from a mine with an extraction capacity of up to 100 million tonnes. The concession to the mining company will have a duration of 30 years.

Coltan enables the production of tantalum and niobium, two basic metals for use in electronics. Coltan is the basis for the manufacture of the capacitors inside mobile phones. This mineral is a mixture of columbite (oxide of niobium, iron and manganese) and tantalite (oxide of tantalum, iron and manganese).

Tantalum is the material that allows the manufacture of highly reliable and stable capacitors, devices that are capable of withstanding extremely variable temperatures, which can range from 55 degrees below zero to 125 degrees above zero.

In recent years, Spain has begun to make a name for itself in terms of deposits of minerals that are essential for the technological changes to come. Spain is in a privileged position in terms of the potential for manufacturing batteries for electric vehicles. It has the two most important deposits of this metal in Europe.

Exploitation of these resources has not yet begun, but there are companies that are well advanced in their efforts to make use of these mines. The largest lithium mine in Europe is located in San José de Valdeflórez, in the province of Cáceres. The second is in Las Navas, in the municipality of Cañaveral, also in the province of Cáceres.

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The Corner
The Corner has a team of on-the-ground reporters in capital cities ranging from New York to Beijing. Their stories are edited by the teams at the Spanish magazine Consejeros (for members of companies’ boards of directors) and at the stock market news site Consenso Del Mercado (market consensus). They have worked in economics and communication for over 25 years.